I'm topless Ryan Johnson, and I endorse this message!
Well here it is, after a hectic schedule over the last month or so, and with a week off tantalisingly within grasp, Toronto FC first have to get this game out of the way. It means nothing, and the only result that will be worth noting is the injury report, if everyone comes through with a clean bill of health, then I'll call that, if not exactly a success, at least not a fury igniting disaster. Even if that happens, well we've still got that game against Chicago in the international break because of this, so there's no way this can be spun as a harmless thing.
Of course, it's not about TFC in any way at all. This is about Liverpool, and a rare chance for local Liverpool supporters to see their heroes (well, the shambles that currently gives the good Liverpool name a black eye that is) play, and practise up close and personal. Actually no, not even those guys, they'll be full of reserves as well, hmm, well I guess it's the chance to cheer on laundry, as Jerry Seinfeld said, and to get together and give themselves chills by singing you'll never walk alone together.
That's important, I can understand that, I don't begrudge them it, I just wish TFC didn't have to be the patsy, and move their schedule around to make it happen. That's the main part of this that really bothered me about this, the optics of it all.
The main problem is the fact that we all saw the Chicago game bumped off to the international break. If the schedule had been published with a blank Saturday on this date, I'd have rolled my eyes for sure, disappointed and disillusioned but not really angry. They've had these games before plenty of times, I went to the bolton game, all interested in seeing Robbie Blake again. Last year without a friendly was a fantastic move by TFC, but I'd never expect them to surprise me by keeping that level of focus on what's best for the team, after all that s in MLSE won't turn into a $ all by itself will it.
No, it was the fact that we saw the clumsy wizard behind the curtain making the season harder for TFC, adding to the congestion and forcing us to play a game without our international call-ups, that really got the blood boiling. It was the cash grab, the bending over for the big boys, the blatant disrespect for your own team and your own league that really hurt, I'm not angry enough for that rant right now, if you want that, it's all right here.
The way it went down led people to suggest that TFC agreed to move the Chicago game at the league's request, which was the official line at the time and which I completely dismissed. Now though, I'm beginning to think they were maybe telling the truth, and then with the day open they decided well hey if we've got the time free we may as well succumb to the pressure, play nice with the new bosses at Rogers, and take the cash to run out a B team, after all everyone agrees the reserve league is pretty inadequate when it comes to the amount of games played. I'm almost ready to buy that this wasn't their nefarious plan all along. Almost.
What makes me come around to this way of thinking is the fact that TFC plainly don't give a shit about this one. Even with the fact that MLSE aren't the ones promoting it, I'm genuinely delighted by the lack of noise about this game. In the email they sent out before the Colorado game, they warned us all that the Chicago game had been moved, but totally ignored the opportunity to tell us why. Neither the team's official twitter account, or official twitter capo Bobby Brizzo have barely a mention of the L word after going a long way through their timelines.
It's an unnervingly refrshingly change from the OMG OMG IT'S REAL MADRID AND RONALDO AND KAKA AND REAL MADRID AND OMG THIS IS THE GREATEST MOMENT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF SOCCER AND RONALDO AND REAL MADRID SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! seat wetting that came from the club around that Real Madrid game. While that sort of thing just makes me hate it more, the fact that TFC have shown they care about this one about as much as I do makes me a lot less pissed off at it all somehow.
It is what it is at this stage, team news has shown that Liverpool are giving this one a very half arsed effort, TFC certainly are off the pitch, and I'd like to think they will do on the pitch as well. Throw some starters out there if necessary for some kind of contractual obligation, but get them off the pitch as soon as possible (could Ryan Johnson actually get a rest here? He just might you know.) hope for no injuries and let's see if some random academy kid can get a Gabe Gala moment. My big hope would be that the whole thing fizzles out enough that next year's promoters don't see making TFC play the game as a good plan.